Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fatal Shooting in Alaskan Village Resulted in Two Officer Deaths

The Police Force in Hoonah, Alaska has been slashed in half by the untimely deaths of Officers Anthony Wallace and Matthew Tokuoka. The tragedy occurred late Saturday night, August 28. In a seemingly unprovoked attack, John Marvin, Jr. is accused in shooting the two police officers and is being charged with two counts of first degree murder.

The altercation that resulted in two officer deaths on Saturday in Hoonah, a village of 800 people on an island about forty miles west of Juneau, was not the first exchange Officers Wallace and Tokuoka had with their alleged murderer, John Marvin, Jr. According to court records, he was accused of attacking the same two officers while they were responding to a woman’s call about an intruder in 2009. The charges against him were dropped in December; the prosecutor assigned to the case declined to explain why these charges were dismissed.

After allegedly firing at Officers Wallace and Tokuoka—a shooting that Alaska State Troopers call an ambush—John Marvin Jr. retreated to his home where he barricaded himself from his ensuing arrest, until finally surrendering on Monday morning, August 30, after a two day standoff with authorities, including the Juneau Police Department’s SWAT team.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s Mid-Year Fatality Report, officer deaths surge 43% in the first half of 2010, and continue to rise with this tragedy in Alaska; a devastating shift from last year, which had the lowest number of line-of-duty deaths since 1959. Firearms-related fatalities made up nearly 36% of mid-year 2010 deaths. Following recent events, it is evident that the disturbing 2009 pattern of “cluster killings” – when more than one officer is shot and killed in the same incident – continues in 2010.

Officer Anthony Wallace, one of the only deaf police officers in the country, was on-duty when he was shot in front of the other passenger – his mother, who was visiting him in Alaska for the first time. Officer Tokuoka was off-duty, driving with his wife and two children, when he stopped to talk to Officer Wallace. He was shot soon after the bullet penetrated his fellow officer.

Officer Matthew Tokuoka was a Hawaii native, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, who had worked for the department since spring 2009.

Officer Anthony Wallace was originally from Ohio, and attended the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York. He was a three-time All-American wrestler and was inducted into R.I.T.’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008. He followed in his father and grandfather’s footsteps to become a law enforcement officer, despite being hearing impaired.

Both Officers Matthew Tokuoka and Anthony Wallace will be greatly missed. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund extends our deepest sympathies to the officers’ families, the Hoonah Police Force, and the people of Hoonah, who are all grieving the loss of two devoted officers dedicated to protecting their community.

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1 comment:

  1. The loss of a law enforcement officer is hard enough to accept, but the loss of these two officers in front of their families--mother and wife--is beyond comprehension.

    The members of the law enforcement community grieve the loss of two of their own.